Tips to Ensure Your Project Has a Fitting Finale
Project closing is the final phase in the project lifecycle. It includes:
- The project closure report
- Client sign-off
- Closing contracts
- Final reconciliation
- Knowledge transferral
One element that might be considered is a project closing meeting. Instead of the project manager presenting close-off only to the client, a project closing meeting is an opportunity for all project team members to review their work, successes, and lessons to be learned.
The Project Closing Meeting – A Fitting Finale
Have you ever watched the Olympics, and noticed that the gold medal athletes never cross the finishing line and exit trackside immediately? They drape their nation’s flag around their shoulders, jog a lap of honour, meet and greet supporters, and watch the rerun on the screen. Anything less would be anticlimactic. Kind of “What now?” or “Was that it?”
The project closing meeting is the project manager’s opportunity to give the project an equally fitting finale. The project team has worked hard for weeks, months, or even longer to bring the project to a successful close. The project manager will have worked hard to get the best from the project team. My advice is don’t leave them hanging, thinking to themselves, “Was that it?”
How to Structure a Project Closing Meeting
A project closing meeting is likely to last up to three or four hours, depending on the length and breadth of the project. It is therefore best to block out a morning to ensure you accomplish the meeting’s goals, which can be summarised in its agenda:
- Project Overview and Summary – Business Case, Stages, Methods
- Accomplishments – including any value added
- Lessons Learned – what can we take forward to the next project?
- Closing and Thanks
Preparing the Project Closing Meeting
Much of the preparatory work will be complete, as most of the meeting is a review of the project. However, the project manager should summarise and bullet point key documents and achievements to streamline the meeting.
It is, of course, important to give advance warning of the meeting to ensure that all project team members are present and to make certain that they are not involved with other duties.
A few days ahead of the meeting, participants should be asked to prepare their lessons learned. This part of the meeting will be the most critical, and is likely to include team and individual lessons – good and bad.
The Project Closing Meeting – Agenda Items Bulleted
When it comes to conducting the project closing meeting, I like to make certain that the following points are covered in each agenda item:
- The project’s main aims
- Timescale, cost and quality targets
- Issuers and risks
- The end users
- Other project stakeholders
- Activities undertaken
- Collaboration between teams and individuals
- Key decisions taken
- Comparison of achievements against targets
- What added value did the team provide?
Likely to be the longest part of the meeting, and the most interactive. This is crucial to address lessons learned across the gamut of the project, including:
- Project scope
- Schedule management
- Estimation of costs
- Budget control
- Allocation of resources
- Working with stakeholders
- Process improvements
You’ll want to address key questions such as:
- What is the situation?
- What actions were taken?
- What alternatives were considered?
- What went well, and what can be improved?
- What advice can be given for future projects, and what lessons can be learned?
Closing and Thanks
In closing, the project manager should summarise the meeting and describe what happens next. Importantly, this is the opportunity to extend a final ‘thank you’ to all for all their efforts, and celebrate joint success. If appropriate, the project manager may also present every team member with a small token of appreciation.
After the Project Closing Meeting
All members of the team should be sent a summary of the meeting, with particular attention to achievements, lessons learned, and celebrating the project’s successful completion.
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